Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


Those who wanted a better education for the governing classes
than that given in the grammar schools saw clearly the necessity
for a proper knowledge of English, for use " in preaching, in
council, in parliament, in commission, and other offices of
Commonweal." From this to the recognition of English as
worthy of a place alongside the ancient languages as a medium
of humanistic discipline there was still a considerable interval.
But at least one great teacher, as we shall see, was ready to go all
the way.

The prevalence of the desire for educational improvement is
shown by the number of books dealing with education during this
period. The subject, one might almost say, was in everybody's
mind. Even a poet like Spenser thinks of his poetry as essentially
educative, declaring the aim of the. Faerie Queene to be the Institu-
tion of a Gentlemanó" to fashion a gentleman or noble person
in vertuous and gentle discipline " by the inculcation of the
Aristotelian virtues. No less striking is the variety of treatment.
One groupómen of the world, for the most partódiscusses the
training of the well-born youth from many different points of view.
Laurence Humphrey, a Calvinistic divine and president of
Magdalen College, writes a treatise on The Nobles, first in Latin
(1561), then in English (1563), to commend virtue and learning
to the upper classes. Roger Ascham, the tutor and afterwards
the secretary of Queen Elizabeth, expounds in the Scholemaster
(1570) the method of learning the classics by double translation
which he had employed with his royal pupil, in order to make
the way of study easy and pleasant for the young. Sir Humphrey
Gilbert, the great explorer and colonizer, puts forward a project
for " the erection of an Academy in London for the education of
Her Majesty's wards and others the youth of nobility and gentle-
men " (1572), and draws up a comprehensive scheme of practical
instruction in language, science, law and divinity, and the modern
subjects " meet for present practice both of peace and war."
James Cleland, a Scotsman domiciled in England, presents afresh
the views of Castiglione, Elyot and the other exponents of the
courtly culture, specially advocating foreign travel, in The Insti-
tution of a Young Nobleman (1607). Somewhat later Henry
Peacham goes over much the same ground, but dwells more fully
than any of his predecessors on the beauties of English literature,
ia the highly popular Compkat Gentleman (1622).